27th March, 2020
It is with a heavy heart and after a lot of soul searching that I have decided we have no other option but to close LeaneyPrimary School until further notice from Friday at 3pm. I have contacted my Board of Governors and they are in agreement with me.
You will be aware that only children of key workers have been attending the school. Every time the school is open I have to have at least two staff to supervise children, as well as the caretaker, cleaners and secretary. Every day they are in school, they and their families are put at risk. I have carried out a full risk assessment with regard to this and I believe that to allow this situation to continue will not be safe for either children or adults. I do not want to be here in a week hearing about a child or adult who has contracted the virus whilst at school. The right to education, the right to childcare does not trump the right to life.
We originally kept the school open as a short term option, a stop gap to help parents - we were told by the Department of Education that there was a plan for hubs or cluster schools to be set up. That plan seems, so far, to consist of telling schools to make it up for themselves. That is not good enough for my staff or for your children.
We have made every effort to socially distance, but it is almost impossible to keep the children safe. We have no anti bacterial soap, no hand sanitiser and now, not enough First Aiders to rota in on a daily basis. The number of staff available (including, crucially, senior leaders) has dropped day after day as they have had to self isolate for their own health, in order to care for loved ones or because they or a family member has signs of the virus. Many, like you, have pre school aged children whose childcare facility has closed for the duration, so they must also work from home.
Were we to try and continue next week, I feel that I would be putting my remaining staff at risk as well as your children. That is not acceptable. Of course, this does not mean an end to your child’s school year (hard luck, kids!). They will continue to be supported by their class teacher on See Saw.
Finally, I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work and dedication. It promises to be a lovely weekend. Try and make the most of it and get out in the garden or for a walk (social distancing permitting!).
Miss V. Moorhouse – Principal
Agreement policy to participate in school providing Key Worker support for your child(ren)
- Every alternative childcare arrangement should be explored before deciding to send children to school. School should, in effect, be a LAST RESORT. This is in order to comply with general public health advice on social distancing and limit the number of children and adults together in a small space in line with recent social distancing guidance.
- You must be in an emergency situation where no family members can supervise your child(ren), e.g. husband, wife, partner, older children, extended family members, friends cannot support.
- If you work part time you must only use the service for the hours and days you need.
- If you are able to work from home to accommodate this situation, then you should do so and care for your child at home.
- As we are not trained medical staff we cannot guarantee the safety of your child in relation to contracting the virus if you choose to send them in to school.
- Any decision to send a child to school must be based on trust and we appeal to parents not to abuse the service to further promote the spread of the virus and put staff and other children at risk.
If it is agreed that your child is attending, you must observe the following:
- Children attending will not be required to wear school uniform.
- Schools will be performing childcare duties not teaching and they will be carried out by all members of staff.
- Children will attend as follows:
Primary 1-3 9.00am – 2.00pm
Primary 4-7 9.00am – 3.00pm
- Children should bring their own tablet / device to allow them to access online learning. They will not be permitted to use school devices to prevent cross contamination.
- Wrap around services will not be available.
- If a family has multiple children who are attending and the children are in different year groups, parents still need to follow the guidance regarding collection times. Children will not be permitted to remain in school later than the allocated time for their year group.
- School will not be open before 9am in the morning for any child.
- Parents must send in a packed lunch in a disposable bag (not a lunch box), morning snack and a bottle of water with their child as we are not sure about facilities at present for school meals. If it becomes clear that meals are available, we will let parents know.
- Children must bring their home learning packs with them to school. Pupils will be supervised whilst they complete the home learning pack independently.
- Children will be following social distancing advice and will sit at least two metres away from others. They will have outside time, but not playing in close proximity to each other.
- There is no requirement for identified key worker parents to take up this offer or send their children to school if they do not wish to.
- Any child(ren) who had been previously withdrawn from school on the basis of risk should not return.
- Any child who presents with symptoms of Covid-19 will be put into isolation and school will telephone the emergency contact number which is on the form provided.
- If you intend to use the service you need to contact the school principal by email – email@example.com by 9am on a Friday to outline which days you will require the use of this service for the following week. This is the only way that schools can plan for adequate staffing and correct pupil ratios. For week commencing 23rd March, we will assume that all parents who applied need 5 days of cover, unless they have stated otherwise. Should a parent realise they do not required all 5 days, please contact the school using the info@ email above.
- It could potentially be impossible to accept the number of families who may apply for provision, given the extensive nature of the Minister’s key worker list and it will be up to the school to prioritise places to meet the recent social distancing guidance and meet adequate staff ratios.
- If multiple members of staff become unwell and there is not enough staff to ensure the correct staffing ratios to run the service it may have to be withdrawn at short notice.
- This agreement may be updated without prior notice as and when new guidance is received from DENI.
- Obviously, it goes without saying, if you are a key worker and your only option is to send your child to school, we will look after them in order to support you in your important role.
Coleraine Primary Principals’ Group
Statement regarding supporting the children of key workers. 20th March 2020
At approximately 5pm last evening, the minister for Education in Northern Ireland, Peter Weir, MLA, made a statement outlining how schools will close from the end of the school day, today, Friday 20th March, however, he has asked schools to open with skeleton staff on Monday 23rd March to support identified key workers. You are receiving this letter as your child’s primary school is represented, by your principal, on the Coleraine Primary Principal’s Group. Many principals on this group have agreed to follow a coordinated response to ensure that we support the children of key workers in a similar way across our schools. Some schools may be in a position to provide more support, depending on the numbers of staff still available to work. Firstly, it is vitally important that schools are aware how many children of key workers will be attending school on Monday morning. With this in mind, if you feel you are an identified key worker, please make contact with your child’s primary school (by the email address listed below) by 2pm on Friday 20th March to inform school if you are requesting a place for your child/children and how you meet the key workers definition. If schools feel they can offer your child a place safely, they will be in touch. Our position on this may well be ever evolving. This is a procedure to be followed on a daily basis to ensure staffing is adequate. Before contacting school please pay particular attention to the following points. Schools will not be able to operate a ‘normal’ school day. Many of our schools are already operating with a significant reduction in staffing and this will probably continue to get worse over time.
POINTS TO CONSIDER: A list of key workers, issued by the Department of Education is listed overleaf.
- Only children with BOTH parents working as key workers, and BOTH PARENTS OUT AT WORK AT THE SAME TIME should consider attending school. In single parent families, the individual parent with full time responsibility MUST be a key worker.
- If possible, alternative childcare arrangements should be sought before deciding to send your child to school. For example, with other family members, friends etc. Please try and use schools as a last resort. This is to try and limit the number of children and adults together in a small space in line with recent social distancing guidance.
- Initially, schools will not have wraparound services available. Each school’s normal opening and closing time will apply-Eg: 9am -2pm, 9am-3pm
- Children attending school will NOT be required to wear uniform. Please be advised that schools will be performing childcare duties, not teaching. Not all teachers are currently available to teach specific year groups. Teachers involved in this childcare will NOT be available to provide online/remote learning to other children/classes.
We would ask that you pay attention to the points outlined above before deciding to send your child to school. Please also remember PHA advice must be followed at all times and children/families must follow all self-isolation advice. Schools will also follow PHA advice should anyone display symptoms or take unwell during attendance. Obviously it goes without saying, if your ONLY option is to send your child to school, we will look after them to support you in your important role.
Coleraine Primary Principals’ Group
School email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
List of key workers as outlined in information to schools on Thursday 19th March 2020
Please work with us to ensure schools operate with a limited number of children and staff.
- Health and Social Care. This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, home carers and staff required to maintain our health and social care sector
- Education and childcare. This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who will remain active during the Covid-19 response
- Public safety and national security. This includes civilians and officers in the police (including key contractors), Fire and Rescue Service, prison service and other national security roles
- Transport. This will include those keeping air, water, road and rail transport modes operating during the Covid-19 response
- Utilities and Communication. This includes staff needed for oil, gas, electricity and water (including sewage) and primary industry supplies, to continue during the Covid-19 response, as well as key staff in telecommunications, post and delivery, services and waste disposal
- Food and other necessary goods. This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution and sale, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (e.g hygiene, medical etc)
- Other workers essential to delivering key public services
- Key national and local government including those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response
Today parents will receive a QR code for an app called See Saw. This will allow teachers to communicate directly with their classes. Teachers can set and mark/comment on work, children can access and then upload their own work. We hope this will be of some benefit in these trying times. Please look out for your QR code and the pupil code for your child today. Get the app set up to check you can work it before any possible closure. Parents download the family seesaw app and children download the class app. If your child is not in school today, you can pick it up on Wednesday or we can email it out as long as we have an address for you.